Wow! Looking back, 2023 was a pretty stellar year in terms of milestones for the Antonelli’s Cheese Team! These are in no particular order. Thank you for being a part of our story and our journey. Here’s to new connections and community through cheese in 2024!1. Announced a New Location! We launched a new vision for our future (and EOS - Entrepreneurial Operating System - for the biz geeks who care!), focusing on the ways we can bring people together and create experiences around cheese. That means more events, more gatherings around cheese trays, and expanding our cheese club. We set about looking for a new space to expand our reach, signed a lease, hosted a citywide scavenger hunt to reveal the location, and are keeping our fingers crossed for a Q1 opening in early 2024 of our South Lamar tasting room!
2. Welcomed New Team Members: We gratefully expanded our team to include many new folks, including some key members on our leadership team: Cathy as our retail manager, James as our customer service specialist for cheese club and wholesale, and Jordan as our new marketing manager.
3. Texas Cheese Wins - Texas cheesemakers really represented at this year’s American Cheese Society competition. Pure Luck Farm & Dairy not only took home 5 ribbons for all 5 cheeses they entered, but they also won a Best of Show 3rd place for their Fresh Chevre - an unprecedented feat for a young, beautiful fresh goat milk cheese. Other Texas Cheesemakers that took home wins included River Whey, OroBianco, Lira Rossa, and MozzCo.
4. Celebrated Team Milestones - Nicholas, our Director of Operations, won the Austin Heart of Hospitality Award from the Visit Austin Foundation! Matt, our lead events host, won a scholarship trip to Holland to study cheese with Betty Koster of L’Amuse Fromagerie. (Stay tuned for the 2024 trip details!)
Henry and Jerod both studied, sat for, and passed their Certified Cheese Professional exams. (To date, Antonelli’s Cheese has supported - and been supported by! - over a dozen CCPs.)
Kendall was selected for and completed the James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership program; she is now a proud alumna and fellow.
Casie was accepted into the Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin Chapter, a nonprofit of women in the hospitality industry committed to giving back and supporting philanthropy in our community.
Casie was also the Conference Chair or the 2023 ACS Conference, and will be again for 2024!
Lisa won a Cheeseletes Back in the Vat Grant to apprentice with Jasper Hill Farm for 6 months. (She’s still there - go Lisa!)
Eleanor was awarded a scholarship by the Austin Dames to pursue a Beekeeping Apprenticeship at Two Hives Honey, a local producer we get to represent in the shop, and has been committing many weekends to the learning endeavor.
Weston completed a Sustainability Internship with us while pursuing his degree at UT, reviewing our practices and preparing to present us with ways to improve in the new year. He also completed our Austin Organics plan through the City of Austin.
Everett (11) and Elia (9) Antonelli officially clocked in and out, took a health safety class, read our policies and procedures, and worked our 4 busiest days of the year, earning their first pay checks. (They also learned what a physical pay check is and how to deposit it in a bank.)
Alvie's Boots selected Kendall as a local Kickback Ambassador, meaning not only does she rep their (awesome!) Trinity boot, but she designated that a portion of all sales go towards the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
5. Hosted the Inaugural Back in the Vat Grant - We were one of three companies who participated in this inaugural endeavor to support learning across the industry. We got lucky when Alice Bergen Phillips, founder of Cheesemonster in DC, staged with us for a week.
7. Celebrated a lot of love!
Nicholas and Matt, both team members, got married! Of course, they celebrated with a Raclette Night in the Cheese House.
Two other team members separately got engaged to their respective fiances; congrats to Bailey and Chase!
Kendall and John celebrated 20 years together (or rather, since that first kiss senior year of college!).
8. The Antonelli Family did France - For our summer vacation this year, the little Antonellis requested a trip to the land of cheese. We visited over a dozen cheese producers and affineurs (agers), as well as double that in cheese and charcuterie shops across France!
9. Hit Record-Breaking Numbers:
Cheese Club High - Our Cheese Club hit an all time high with over 420 memberships. Here’s hoping we double that in 2024!
Newsletter Subscribers - We surpassed 70,000 subscribers to our newsletter!
Brabander Reserve - We sold more of the cheese formerly known as Black Betty in record time, than we ever have before.
Cheese Tray Craze - We produced more cheese trays on the day before Thanksgiving than ever before in one day: 379!
10. Closed out the Capital One Commercial - After running for 18 months (their “longest running commercial,”), our time in the national spotlight came to a close in April, when the commercial went off the air. What a wild ride that was!